Does the Vatican view the American pro-lifers as a bunch of wacky extremists?
An article today certainly suggest this.
What’s going on?
The Vatican, Catholics more generally, and “pro-lifers”, as designated by the Catholic website CatholicCulture.org are still apparently very much at odds over a now cancelled Vatican conference on stem cells that would have included some speakers who do work on embryonic stem cells (ESC).
The ill-fated 2012 conference had a planned program that was far more diverse than the first Vatican stem cell meeting (read about it here) that took place last year. To be included as speakers were Drs. George Daley and Alan Trounson, the President of CIRM.
The inclusion of Daley, Trounson, and a few other pro-ESC researchers on the program had some Vatican leaders and pro-lifers up in arms, but interestingly the program itself was organized by the Vatican. To many of us the planned schedule for the meeting was a welcome, albeit puzzling surprise. But t some American pro-lifers and possibly some Vatican insiders viewed the inclusion of Daley, Trounson and others as a big scandal.
The subsequent cancellation of the meeting was reported by Catholic News Agencies to be specifically because Vatican leaders did not want Daley, Trounson and others to speak. However, the Vatican, in damage control mode, later has claimed a variety of excuses for canceling the meeting ranging from lack of interest and organizational problems to budget problems.
CatholicCulture.org is reporting today that the meeting was 86’d for budget problems, not because of “pro-life pressure”. Intriguingly, this piece ends with a vague, but potentially very meaningful quote from Father Renzo Pegoraro and Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau, who had been a key organizer of the conference (emphasis mine):
“These people are well known,” the letter said, “and the Pontifical Academy and other bodies of the Holy See give them no credibility whatsoever.”
What the heck does that mean? Who are “these people”?
The simplest interpretation is that these Vatican leaders are referring to the pro-lifers.
If correct, this is certainly a huge slap in the face to the American pro-life community from the Vatican.
Other readers of this blog have suggested the Vatican was talking about Daley and Trounson by “they”, but I think that is less likely.
Just what is the relationship between the Vatican and the extremist pro-lifers in America who seem to have hijacked the Republican Party?
I believe that good people can disagree about ESC.
In addition, I believe that a very large fraction of people who believe in God, including many Catholics, also support ESC research.
I hope that the Vatican will set up a new meeting that still is diverse and inclusive to have a real dialogue on stem cells. Call me naive, but I have hope and this apparent slap in the face of pro-life extremists by the Vatican increases my hope just a bit.